The Works of Lord Byron (ed. Coleridge, Prothero)/Poetry/Volume 1/Lachin y Gair

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LACHIN Y GAIR.[1]

1.

Away, ye gay landscapes, ye gardens of roses!
 In you let the minions of luxury rove;
Restore me the rocks, where the snow-flake reposes,
 Though still they are sacred to freedom and love:
Yet, Caledonia, belov'd are thy mountains,
 Round their white summits though elements war;
Though cataracts foam 'stead of smooth-flowing fountains,
 I sigh for the valley of dark Loch na Garr.


2.

Ah! there my young footsteps in infancy, wander'd:
 My cap was the bonnet, my cloak was the plaid;[2]
On chieftains, long perish'd, my memory ponder'd,
 As daily I strode through the pine-cover'd glade;
I sought not my home, till the day's dying glory
 Gave place to the rays of the bright polar star;
For fancy was cheer'd, by traditional story,
 Disclos'd by the natives of dark Loch na Garr.


3.

"Shades of the dead! have I not heard your voices
 Rise on the night-rolling breath of the gale?"
Surely, the soul of the hero rejoices,
 And rides on the wind, o'er his own Highland vale!
Round Loch na Garr, while the stormy mist gathers,
 Winter presides in his cold icy car:
Clouds, there, encircle the forms of my Fathers;
 They dwell in the tempests of dark Loch na Garr.


4.

"Ill starr'd,[3] though brave, did no visions foreboding
 Tell you that fate had forsaken your cause?"
Ah! were you destined to die at Culloden,[4]
 Victory crown'd not your fall with applause:
Still were you happy, in death's earthy slumber,
 You rest with your clan, in the caves of Braemar;[5]
The Pibroch[6] resounds, to the piper's loud number,
 Your deeds, on the echoes of dark Loch na Garr.


5.

Years have roll'd on, Loch na Garr, since I left you,
 Years must elapse, ere I tread you again:
Nature of verdure and flowers has bereft you,
 Yet still are you dearer than Albion's plain:
England! thy beauties are tame and domestic,
 To one who has rov'd on the mountains afar:
Oh! for the crags that are wild and majestic,
 The steep, frowning glories of dark Loch na Garr.[7]

  1. Lachin y Gair, or, as it is pronounced in the Erse, Loch na Garr, towers proudly pre-eminent in the Northern Highlands, near Invercauld. One of our modern tourists mentions it as the highest mountain, perhaps, in Great Britain. Be this as it may, it is certainly one of the most sublime and picturesque amongst our "Caledonian Alps." Its appearance is of a dusky hue, but the summit is the seat of eternal snows. Near Lachin y Gair I spent some of the early part of my life, the recollection of which has given birth to the following stanzas. [Prefixed to the poem in Hours of Idleness and Poems O. and T.]
  2. This word is erroneously pronounced plad; the proper pronunciation (according to the Scotch) is shown by the orthography.
  3. I allude here to my maternal ancestors, "the Gordons," many of whom fought for the unfortunate Prince Charles, better known by the name of the Pretender. This branch was nearly allied by blood, as well as attachment, to the Stuarts. George, the second Earl of Huntley, married the Princess Annabella Stuart, daughter of James I. of Scotland. By her he left four sons: the third, Sir William Gordon, I have the honour to claim as one of my progenitors.
  4. Whether any perished in the Battle of Culloden, I am not certain; but, as many fell in the insurrection, I have used the name of the principal action, "pars pro toto."
  5. A tract of the Highlands so called. There is also a Castle of Braemar.
  6. [The Bagpipe.—Hours of Idleness. (See note, p. 133.)]
  7. [The love of mountains to the last made Byron

    "Hail in each crag a friend's familiar face,
    And Loch na Garr with Ida looked o'er Troy."

    The Island (1823), Canto II. stanza xii.]